TUSK to TUSK: rob hayler on the year past and the ‘final’ midwich show

September 22, 2017 at 11:42 am | Posted in midwich, musings, new music, no audience underground | 3 Comments
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TUSK 2017 poster

Shit.  Who would have thought that 2017 could turn out to be worse than 2016?  At the global level, possibly irreversible man-made climate change is screaming ‘I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO’ as it flattens, floods or incinerates.  The leader of the free world is a ham-faced, racist, narcissistic idiot who appears happy to boast about the prospect of nuclear war.  I started typing ‘I could go on..’ but I’m not sure I can.  I feel the same stomach-flipping foreboding that kept me awake as a teenager in the ‘80s.

On a more personal level, my plan to ‘sort everything out’ whilst on sabbatical from radio free midwich has yielded mixed results.  Without going into detail, months have been sliced from the year caring for elderly relatives following a ‘things will never be the same’ level accident.  My own life has been complicated by learning to cope with diabetes and other long-term, soul-withering nonsense that would be unwise for me to discuss on a public forum.  Everything is either an emergency or delayed indefinitely.

As I write, waves of rain are crashing against the back windows of the house, and Warehouse: Songs and Stories is playing quietly in the background, commemorating the untimely death of Grant Hart.  I look up at a post-it note with ‘fencing flatworm 2017 release: East of the Valley Blues’ written on it, placed at an optimistic angle on the wall nine months ago (sorry fellas)…

So [takes deep breath] what to do?  As always: count my blessings, be realistic, look forward. It ain’t all bad.  Living with my wife Anne and our four year old son Thomas is an inexhaustible source of strength and inspiration.  Family switches the light back on when it grows dark in my head.  Joe is doing a staggering job at the helm of this beautiful blog.  The #noiselife area of Twitter I frequent has offered an easy way of maintaining connections even at the busiest times.  And then there’s music, always music.  From bangers heard on 1Xtra whilst I’m cooking to the glottal pops and retches of the latest gurglecore tape as recommended below.

When talk of TUSK Festival 2017 started appearing on social media I recalled what a life-affirming blast it had been in 2016 and vented my frustration at our current lack of funds via a handful of joke tweets (read from bottom to top):

tusk tweets

This caught the attention of Lee Etherington, TUSK head honcho, and – fuck me – he only went for it!  So, at the moment it looks like I’m going to be hosting a discussion about the state of, ahem, ‘the underground’ then perform immediately after.  GET IN!  I’m delighted and as this is such a relatively high profile gig that I could use to springboard my career to the next level I’m going to… nah, only joking:

I’m going to use it to kill midwich.

NWW - A Sucked Orange cover pic

Some context.  One of the headline acts is Nurse With Wound.  I imagine virtually all readers of this blog will be familiar with at least some of the music of Steven Stapleton and his numerous collaborators.  As such, it is unlikely to surprise you that his work is an enormous influence on me, maybe one of the two biggest on my output as midwich.  The magickaldronetronics of Soliloquy for Lilith – constructed from recordings of self-playing pedal loops manipulated hands-off like a Theremin – is something I have pathetically tried to harness numerous times.  What might raise an eyebrow, though, is how much of the dada and whimsical side of Stapleton’s catalogue I’ve absorbed too.  In amongst the drones I’ve always used skittish interludes, sometimes jokey, sometimes intentionally irritating or deliberately on the verge of being so.  This is all the fault of albums like A Sucked Orange – a collection of off cuts that I adore – which is a perfect manifestation of Stapleton’s inspiring unconcern with the mucking about that comes with being, y’know, an actual musician.  It might genuinely be the case that the track ‘Pleasant Banjo Intro With Irritating Squeak’, a mere 43 seconds long, is the biggest musical influence not only on midwich but on how I think about what is possible in ‘the underground’.  Chew on that.

To be on the same bill as this band (albeit as part of a weekend-long festival and in an adjacent room) makes me feel rubbery with excitement and nerves.  This is pretty much all I wanted to happen one day.  Now it will, so I’m done.

(An aside on the other biggest influence on midwich: Pan sonic.  Oh god, how I loved their heaving rumble that had me gluing a coin to the cartridge to stop my prissy needle jumping off the record in disgust.  Just as impressive though was how they threaded this cyclopean density with intricacy, thought and playfulness.  Like an obsidian carving of Cthulhu shaking its polyps to Miami Bass.  The removal of the second ‘a’ from their name, then calling the following album ‘A’, is perhaps the most deadpan, thus funniest, ‘fuck you’ to corporate bullying I can think of.  Inspiring on so many levels.  I was truly saddened by Mika Vainio’s passing this year and, in my own hopelessly inadequate way, my set will be in tribute.)

pan sonic a

What then does it mean when I say ‘I’m going to kill midwich’?  Anyone who has spoken to me before or after any midwich gig of recent years has heard me complaining about the growing unreliability of the Roland MC-303 Groovebox that has been (almost) my sole instrument since 1999.  It’s a remarkable machine but it has been hammered to the point that getting what I want out of it involves an ungainly combo of cajoling and brute force.  I have long spoken of a ‘final’ performance.  This would be a ‘Greatest Hits package’ (I’m semi-serious – any requests?) ending with the tearing up of the manual and the dismantling of the machine, handing out keys, pots and components to audience members as souvenirs.  What more satisfyingly perverse way could there be to end a long term man/machine relationship than with a ritual disembowelment at a prestige venue? This finality has not yet been finalised – scheduling constraints may force a rethink – but if it proves possible I’m well up for carrying a much lighter bag back to the hotel…

groovebox

So: the prospect of a fun discussion followed by a unique performance with a self-sabotaging, tragic-comic finale, maybe even a physical souvenir!  And the same ticket – very reasonably priced weekend or day options available – sees you right for all the other choice oddness occurring too.

Unmissable, eh? See you there.

TUSK Festival 2017, Sage Gateshead, 13-15 October

midwich Bandcamp site

—ooOoo—

 

hymns clog up the internet of things : joe henderson on every contact leaves a trace

September 16, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Helen White – Solar Wind Chime (Every Contact Leaves a Trace)

Simon Whetham – Drowning Electret (Every Contact Leaves a Trace)

 Marvin Tate & Joseph Clayton Mills – The Process (Every Contact Leaves a Trace)

 Bang the Bore Artists – Twelve Tapes (Every Contact Leave a Trace)

 Henry Collins – The Masters (Every Contact Leaves a Trace)

 

The day is Thorsday the Fifth of September. I am going to start anywhere.  And I am not going to tell you he’s running thru a field.

 This is The Bardo. The Brighton Bardo, that he was born into and that I now return. I’m not wiping away the liquid that my eyes are producing. I want him to feel a little light rain on his luminous coat that reflects and absorbs the sky like a Pegasus half horse half angel. Captain Blue Bear, is what I call him, to describe as accurately in pig-English his unique sky-tones and grizzly nobility. I tear away a piece of the outbound ticket to construct my smoke. Funny how the return was taken away. Funny how we entrust our intimacy to so-called beasts.

Robo-cop has to decide whether he’s human or a machine. It’s a lot easier to be cold and sociopathic. You don’t need to suffer anymore. But sometimes some Thing gets under your skin that forces you to feel. What a heartless bastard you would be to take a different road otherwise.

These are the sounds of The Brighton Bardo (Locational. AKA: Seven Lies. Where all roads lead back in and there is no escape). A place for the mad and the sick and the walking dead. A transient place where no one lives, just passing thru. An annex of Londinium, the Greatest City on Earth, connected by artery and blood.

I am sitting on the soiled, rat-stained carpet at The Asylum Hotel trying to figure out which rune is blood branded on a wad of beard I have stashed in my ear-phone pouch. I have connected the listening apparatus to the music transmitter and am attempting to connect the listening apparatus to my own ear so that I can join all the dots and roll with the reality. My listening ear is clogged up from high volumes but it’s okay ‘cause the earphones are broken too. I use my one good ear together with the one good earphone and now we’re dialing him in. That’s how we roll. He loves the radio. Keeps him company. He loves our soft husky girl voices too. Let’s bring him home gently. Let’s turn on the sounds of The Brighton Bardo, finally. ‘Cause it’s been about seven years already. Why is it so painful to connekt?

Is it the black lodge?

Solar-Wind-Chime

Helen White – Solar Wind Chime (Every Contact Leaves a Trace) CD and digital album

It is the solar wind chimes that burn my ear. I tone it down; at any moment someone could come in and disturb these natural instruments and this placid balance. Must be some fast-paced currents in there. I keep forgetting, I’m in there. It’s an effect on the ear. I know that the ear is the last to go, but I didn’t realize that memory worked this way. I keep forgetting I’m here already. In The Bardo. Probably ‘cause it’s too painful to remember. Which is why we have burial rites and why you should never utter a curse in to the dead. The solar storms. That’s interesting. You can pause in The Bardo and check your oracle or library.

The solar storms. He was like a beached whale. Large solar storms. Trapped and lost on European beaches (insert no other, tell the truth). Autopsies showed they were disease-free (I am no longer talking to you, but him). There are climactic changes ‘round here. They drive prey into the North Sea. We need to eat at some point, Boy. The Mariners follow to their doom. That’s not where we’re going, Buoy. Although we are attracted to the huge quantities of squid found in those colder waters, we can’t get stranded. We’ll be lost in the desert forever. We are eight-armed and forever. We are blue. We will eat you. Young males like us head North. We are Snow-Wolves with loyalty to our Master. We learn to read anomalies like you learn to read the contours on maps.

This is The Bardo.

Dominated from midnight by large-scale solar storms, like the ones we flew thru. I take you everywhere with me. The persistence of memory is the true suffering of us. Storms full of charged particles and radiation is the air we breathe in The Bardo. A wasteland of cold, distorted, powerful lights. We are in the sea now. We are lost. Communications and satellites have been damaged. I don’t think anyone can hear us back home. But if there’s anyone I would rather be with on the edge of the world – it’s you. It’s raining again, and I’m sorry if it’s toxic. I said that I was Artemis, long ago, and that you are forgiven. I take that back. The rain is toxic and it’s burning our eyes. We want to find these magnetic mountains, because you and me both are wrong, and that’s why I love you and I’ll go with you. They call it the ‘Guard-rail’ and we are curious about that because you are a bouncer and no-body puts baby in the corner. He howls all night. We’ve been given advice that the mountain range is rendered invisible now in 2017 and that means that we are allowed to swim into the North Sea. So, that’s where we’re heading. Stranded after the storm. We swim into a desert. The gate has been left open. For the first time in Seven or so years. In fact, the gate has been dismantled. And left by the front door. There is no need to close it anymore. All is empty. All is quiet. A longing for intimacy that will pile upon itself until I am removed from this place and put out of my misery. No more suffering. A quiet death. No more pain. Swirling colours stop. There’s no sound. Or Chaos. The Northern Lights Stop.

You see it keeps going back ‘round again if you do not shout STOP

Drowning-Electret

Simon Whetham – Drowning Electret (Every Contact Leaves a Trace) CD and digital album

We pause for a moment. He is thirsty, so I hydrate him with my eye waters. I’m not turning the tap off for anybody. Not when we need it. His black lips and eyes pay the wages of Avon ladies with black lip-gloss and eyeliner. He is the black-faced annihilator.

It’s relatively quiet at The Asylum Hotel when I abandon him. Only planes overhead and a crack from a girl a few minutes ago. Time doesn’t work the way you think it does. But you already know that.

So let’s go back.

Chanting. We don’t know where it comes from. Sometimes it’s overtaken by cars. But somehow it persists. Could be music. Could be the beach. I’m coming back, don’t woof.

How do you do it? How do you kill?

I ask quite clearly with no expectation of an answer.

They say I’m cold ‘cause I bonded with a machine. Down here we try not to dwell on it. But when I return to The Bardo it is memory that is the air we breathe. I’m not allowed to put my heart on the line except for in The Bardo. Here, we talk. We say you’ve lost your intimacy-machine. Let me massage you.

I hesitate to Drown.

I’m going back when the present is still, present. She talks of the calm and the peak. It’s too late, as usual. We are now together again talking about drowning and we seem to know more about that than we like to admit. We are water-creatures. Water-creatures don’t talk about drowning. That’s like a fish saying to his buddy “I’m sorry mate, but I just wet myself”.

We are passing thru a place where people leave us alone. That is good. The trains sound like trees and the trees jangle. We are moving. That is good. The Drowning Electret hurries into some metal shape forms and builds railroads and pylons for us to move in. That’s where you will find us, ultimately. In the tin can rolling down the street. Amplified by some lonely guy. Transmitted to aliens on earth. Aliens, like flies, and dogs. And Octopi. And Earth. And Things that just ain’t human. Like cars, and bits of metal. And plastic. And dead-mans blood.

The transmission breaks up. Which is usually a sign for me to go. I’ll stay with you tho. You are passing thru The Bardo. Alone. And you will come back to me, but chances are I will be so world-weary-stressed that I will not recognize my Brother. And we shall pass by each other not even knowing. Whilst caressing twigs, like kids.

I am now alone. We have become separated. This break-up is aesthetically interesting. But, what is more interesting to me is finding you. I know it could take years. But I don’t want to draw it out that long and I’d rather have you by my side NOW. Your senses are superior to mine, and I need you to survive. It’s a break-up. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with this information. Describe it for you all? It sounds like a radio transmission. Breaking up. By an individual who calls themselves “Simon Whetham”. It sure is wet. We are drowning and lost.

We are starving. Or so that is how you always feel.

I’ll eat for you Brother.

And accidently tread on flies for you.

To help you sleep.

 

We are in The Bardo again.

Things are breaking up. Transmission flimsy.

It’s cold. But I think that’s normal. You are a Snow-Wolf. I laid two blankets upon you. It’s not the height of human accomplishment to be warm.

We are gonna find it tricky to navigate in these conditions. You are wild.

Your yelp grew softer. I was rarely frightened of you. Now we walk side by side, together. The only thing that can make me leave you is fear of death. And how can I fear loving what is dead.

There’s nothing really on the airwaves. It’s an absence. A static persistence. Pleasurable for some reason. Reasons such as 1) That it holds a deeper meaning that can be accessed thru deviant means. 2) That it is so devoid of meaning that the listener can transpose whatever they like into it and literally make these sounds their own. 3) That there is nothing there, which gives a lot of space to create worlds.

I guess it’s the sound of him disintegrating into the void whilst I heat a probably rotten meal in the oven to nourish myself. It has to be done, but you can’t help but think of alternatives. It’s breaking up. There’s nothing there. Has Question Time started again? (To go into another). I’ll come back. [I’m getting lost again – The maps are fizzling]

[TIME]

The-Process

Marvin Tate & Joseph Clayton Mills – The Process (Every Contact Leaves a Trace) CD and digital album

I’ve woken up. My thumb and my bed are on fire. The seagulls are screaming. The only problem is the siren.

It’s breaking up again. Feedback & noise. Lashing. THE PROCESS.

Voices. Memories tryna find a groove, a channel, a vessel. Radio.

Vacuum. Storm shutters down. I think we’ve been here before, the other night of fire. It’s a different day, a different reality. Different feet plodding thru the fog and filthy air. Senile and pleasant. Glitches, samples. I think we have come to the memory space. Processors. Fragments. Cyber-edited. Internal. No acoustics. Layers of Cycles. Regret. Hymnal. Cut grass. Whistling doppelgangers melting into a suburb. Erased. Memos. Night terrors of not recognizing this new room. Can’t reconcile. Archival. Snippets. Kreng-like. Cotton wool, dirty brainspace. Slowly snapping spine. Head tipped backwards, waking up mid-lobotomy. Is this the place where we forget. Eternal sunshine. Intruders, unknown presences, scrubbed out and shadows sanded down from the door frames. Mechanically dysfunctional neuroses. Backed into a corner, a collage of hyper-auditory-impressions. Distilled into a time-frame before silence and snow crunch. We are in the radio-space now. Meddled by winds and far-away gusts. Distant commune. Transmissions clearer. Pounding, haunted, rippling. Deep, depth tones emerging like liquid spirits. Total disorientation. Sweet little motives rising up from time to time like butterflies with the same colour as your loved one – something beautiful to catch a glimpse of before utter disintegration. Always fleeting. Paused dialogues and rain. Wet again. My rain soaked skin has its own memory. All the times we’ve been here before. We look for something outside. Particularly voices are soothing and we are listening out in this rain battered territory. Hymns clog up the Internet of Things. We can’t see the bigger picture, we are in fly-mode. Bondaged. Unfinished sentiments. Flecks of semantic recognition. Smashing a piano. A Time Machine. Argument. Nothing is rubbed out. Nothing is not heard. Running up and down the stairs. Walking thru the snow. Everything you’ve ever heard. Everything you’ve ever said. Everything you’ve ever heard said. Documented. In a cloud. When the cloud comes near – noise. The betrayal of coherence. You are longing for them. The things you have lost. Walking thru the snow. The sounds of the Northern Lights low enough that they touch your ears. You become a rowboat. Paddling thru serenely. With your wolf at your side. Watching out across a horizon that wants no end. Strangers now. Playing pool in a church hall. The ground has turned solid and you are alone. Watching from the other side. Unable to remember when you were here before. A gnawing deja vu. Stumbling often. Looking thru to some scene you can’t understand. Acoustic engulfment. STOP.

Twelve-Tapes

Bang the Bore Artists – Twelve Tapes (Every Contact Leave a Trace) CD and digital album

Whiskey nights over we wake up to this new storm. Buildings swaying like chewing gum and a sense of evacuation before the Leviathan.

I take my hat and shades off. Wipe my eyes. And focus on the Outside again. This fresh apocalypse. Check my seismometer.

I’m going to take Twelve steps forward and no more.

  1. Everything stopped.
  2. The eye was blue
  3. I smell my finger. It smells of burnt flesh.
  4. Opiate
  5. The power is cut to my respirator
  6. Images of red circles flowing outwards
  7. The mangled cars at the feet of Beachy Head
  8. Flowing under the ocean floor
  9. Jerk
  10. Angels swaying violently
  11. A calm television
  12. I can hear screaming through the walls. The room becomes a boat.

I’m turning you on now. I’m flipping my memory-switch to ‘Forget” for a moment to take this Thirteenth step.

I put my coat on, dig in. My one good ear. It’s 7am. Passing the underground car-park at the foot of Bear Road, where that old railway line used to hover above, now hovering in memory ‘cause it’s gone and things move so fast these days you gotta watch your back for the speed. Click ON. There’s no auditory simulation round here, this is the best we’re gonna get. No perfection. Raw perception, whether you like it or not. Too hot, take it off, too cold, put it on. Revolving door Brighton Bardo. There’s something about car-parks at this time of the morning. The silence and seagulls and high-pitched coins and bankcards and exhaustion. Transient scores to settle. We’ll go anywhere to get the business done. Facial recognition tells me that this one is coastal and that tells me it comes with its own cacophony. The noise of the sea. A constant thread that links these places. And out-sources others. It’s a time capsule in here. The outside world has toned itself down and made quick. A vault. An arena. This prolonged anxiety on a thread. An electric beam. I’m so upset, for no reason. I claw back at the rope. The snow-blizzard exercise at the Antarctic. A crude drawing of a face scribbled on to my bucket-head. The sine-wave safety line. Burning up. Persisting. The constant persistence of grit. Molded into vaults and safety chambers. To store yer car. And keep ‘em out. And move you. And kill you. Is it a saber. To drive into the heart of the void. An empty car-park. With all those homicide outlines of cars that died ages ago. Only one victim per bay. Each victim pays the toll. And the toll paves the way. Is it a purification. To make strange the mundane. A true Lynchian shape. Exotic birds come out for a sec. Escaped birds. The horrible sound of a person’s voice, so buried that it could be machine. It’s burning up. The voices. Black metal and noise and nihilism at dawn. The problem is these birds hide out here. Things don’t work the way they should do. You just hear the burning blistering breakfast symphony of the transience. No one lives here, no one lives here, just passing thru. I am amplifying dust. The constant stream of a singularity. Cutting thru the waste. Lending a hand to consistency AKA: TIME. Installing some statue with its finger pointed at you or away from you like a sundial. Depending on how deep the cellar goes. I’m fucking up tremendously and there’s only so many hours in the day I can squeeze all these errors in. When the landscape become black I kinda feel like there’s either no one playing or the greatest player on earth has just taken the stage. Either way. The silence has just reverse fizzled. And gone. Cheerz Seth, that’s truly masterful werk from the contact sheet. (Lucier bound)

The-Masters-Cover-Possibility-1

Henry Collins – The Masters (Every Contact Leaves a Trace) CD and digital album

Four days in. Reminiscent of something sinister. And loss.

Thwang.

Repeatedly.

Impersonalized.

Watching someone else do something you don’t understand.

Searching for the next rabbit-hole.

Phazer.

Shifting.

Plates of terrain. Flat-lined.

Micro.

Tetris blankness.

At the end of the driveway.

You are supposed to be here.

Thwang.

On the day we feed your young fellas.

Drinking water with Ice Valley

Iron clink.

Lawn-mower thorax miniature bird thing

I can see this plain is one of many

Quite a long way to go

We must stop time

Thwacking soft wet grass

Digital Robin

Mar-A-Largo is flattened

He emerges from a bunker in the Virgin Islands.

This smacking between zones, flittered. Chopped.

Humid butchery.

Sigh aviation

Dead man walking

Trace in the reflection

Flicker.

Chopped up bird & grass mixture

All the moments that flank and escape commentary

Knocked out of range

You’ve got to slow down.

You’ve missed them.

Shift some more snow.

This was an account of our movements thru The Bardo whilst the world collapses. Sound tracked by the sound, text & images of ‘Every Contact Leaves a Trace’ artists.

Street Editions (August/September)

SUNFLOWERS

 

 Every Contact Leaves a Trace

 -ooOOoo-

 

 

clicking down the delta: paul margree on mikroton recordings

September 10, 2017 at 6:05 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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MKM – Instants//Paris (Mikroton Recordings)

Burkhard Beins / Lucio Capece / Martin Küchen / Paul Vogel -Fracture Mechanics (Mikroton Recordings)

Ease – No No No, No (Mikroton Recordings)

Alfredo Costa Monteiro / Miguel A. Garcia – Aq’Ab’Al (Mikroton Recordings)

Kurt Liedwart / Andrey Popovskiy / Martin Taxt – Hjem (Mikroton Recordings)

The Holy Quintet – Borough (Mikroton Recordings)

 Kurt Liedwart’s Mikroton Recordings has been broadcasting dispatches from the outer realms of aural voyaging since 2008. Its discography takes in luminaries of abstract improvised sounds such as Keith Rowe, Jason Kahn and Burkhard Beins, as well as newer voices such as Lucio Capece or Miguel A. Garcia.

Mapping the label’s aesthetic would probably encompass the slow ruptures of Crypt-era AMM, the bruising subtleties of Berlin Echtzeitmusik and the glacial intensity of reductionism and its adherents. Electroacoustic improvisation is the phrase you’d reach for, I guess. But take a few steps into this Moscow label’s back catalogue and it becomes clear that this term is about as useful as mapping the ever-widening delta of these musicks as a paper cup is for boiling an egg.

Keeping up with Liedwart’s release schedule can be exhausting. But it’s rewarding, too. Time spent with a Mikroton release opens your brain and ears to the wonders of unconventional sound. Everyday objects are reconfigured into talismanic sonic generators and the orthodoxies of conventional instrumentation are subverted. Hurricanes in the bathtub. Prickles on the skin of a bubble. Scuffles in the grey dawn.

Most of the releases under review here came out earlier in the year. There have been several more since. But as entry points into Mikroton’s fascinating discography, they can’t be beat.

mkm

MKM – Instants//Paris (Mikroton Recordings) CD and digital album

Back in 2012,the Swiss trio of Jason Kahn, Günter Müller and Norbert Möslang assembled in Paris for a lively session of hustle and grind. It wasn’t the first time they’d played together – their debut release was back in 2008 – but sufficient vitality remains here to counter any familiarity.

Kahn has since put his analogue synth and radio setup to one side in preference for longform vocal extemporizations, but this performance never feels like a museum piece. His contributions lock together with Müller and Möslang’s cracked consumer electronics to produce bursts of junkshop argy-bargy in which individual contributions are subsumed into the overarching grey drizzle.

Early sections are a bustling farrago, the collection of gritty burps and high, needling tones not dissimilar to ‘Valentine’, Kahn’s head-to-head with Phil Julian from a year or so back.

It’s chewy, tangible stuff, the irregular bursts of noise like some slo-mo Super 8 footage of a trio of dune buggies carving up the terminal beach. The crew swerve away from any kind of crescendo or manipulative sonic topography, instead allowing the vicissitudes of their kit and caboodle to create natural peaks and lulls. They can’t help building up a head of steam towards the end, though, with a full-spectrum chunter that would give a factory full of boiling kettles a run for its money, before cutting out for an appropriately deadpan finale.

Fracture-Mechanics

Burkhard Beins / Lucio Capece / Martin Küchen / Paul Vogel – Fracture Mechanics (Mikroton Recordings) CD and digital album

An allusive take on multidimensional improvisation from this collection of veterans, most of whom exist as points on the Echtzeitmusik/reductionist/electroacoustic axis.

Where ‘Instants//Paris’ was rough-edged and impolite, ‘Fracture Mechanics’ is enigmatic and considered. Long, breathy saxophone hoots waft across a jittery bed of interference. Glottal clicks rattle between glassy tones like a spittle flecked metronome in a temple. In ‘Pebble Snatch’, two saxophones – Capece on soprano and Küchen on tenor – moan in prehistoric lament. ‘Pendentive’ sets a cavern of ritualistic percussion against lattices of frowning gurgles and hand-bell tinkles.

There’s a lot going on under these unruffled surfaces. A wide-ranging array of equipment – the usual speakers, iPod, radios and objects you’d expect from this milieu, plus saxophones, hand oscillators, e-bowed zithers, monotron, snare drum and, best of all, ‘air from another planet contained in terrestrial glassware’ – yields a rich matrix of effects, but the space is never crowded. Restraint is as important as variety, the cumulative experience of the four players giving them an intuitive sense of when to hold back and when to push out.

Recorded in Ljubljana in 2014, ‘Fracture Mechanics’ is a prime example of the Mikroton aesthetic, with the slow-burn epic of ‘Transmogrification’ a highlight. An ear-rinsing squeal is a low-decibel, high-frequency endurance test, its groan as insistent as a fridge left open in the middle of the night. Godzilla rumbles drag themselves across a vast plain. Its 30-minute runtime resembles an aerial flythrough of a sleeping hive mind, occasional neuron flashes lighting up the dreaming nerve-centre. When it ends, you awake, refreshed.

Ease

Ease – No No No, No (Mikroton Recordings) CD and digital album

I have a soft spot for handmade or custom-built instruments. They force innovation through defamiliarisation. Lacking history, tradition, convention, players have to bend their usual techniques into new shapes, or adopt new ones.

In electronic music, where easy-to-use interfaces combined with infinite variety results in comfort zone-produced cliché, self-made or hand-coded systems are an essential part of keeping things fresh.

And so it goes with ‘Ease’, a Viennese duo of Klaus Filip and Arnold Haberl, aka Noid. The pair uses ppooll, an open-source software tool, to create eerie and minimal computer soundscapes. Both musicians are programmers and are deeply involved in ppooll’s development community (indeed, Filip was one of the founders of the system) and so both are adept in manipulating their system to achieve astounding results – the compositions here are elegant, dense and compelling, moving with the unpredictable implacability of a weather system across a mountain range. There’s an occasional resemblance to fellow countrymen Farmer’s Manual’s live-coded suppleness in the constant, gradual shifts of these two long tracks. There’s also a gritty edge, recalling Kevin Sanders’ briefcase synth cosmologies.

In fact, of all Mikoton’s recent releases, ‘No No No, No’ is the one that fits best into the No-Audience Underground or Extraction Music taxonomies. It’s thanks mainly to the way in which Filip and Haberls’ individual contributions come together – the former moulding sine waves and high tones into beautiful forms, like a glassblower creating a set of skeletal, numinous sculptures, while the latter processes field recordings and natural sounds into rough, low-end rumbles and soft beachy huffs. An addictive, immersive recording.

aq-ab-al

Alfredo Costa Monteiro / Miguel A. Garcia – Aq’Ab’Al (Mikroton Recordings) CD and digital album

If that all sounds a tad refined, Aq’Ab’Al might just be aggressive enough to whet your whistles.

These four chunks of intense cyborg aggression from this Iberian duo balance driller-killer vibrations with a seismically-potent low-end, all rendered in terrifying hi-definition clarity. Skynet tone-clouds meet earthmover grumbles in abrupt, dystopic visions of posthumanity. It’s thrilling, visceral stuff, brutal enough to shatter the gallery politesse of much art-music, yet retaining sufficient detail and ideas to keep you interested through repeated exposure to its tungsten surfaces.

The title comes from Mayan astrology and refers to opposites, change and renewal. While it is strange that something so unnervingly futuristic should take an ancient religion as its touchstone, Monteiro and Garcia are only the latest in a line of experimental artists reaching back through the past for inspiration. Think of Eliane Radigue’s ‘Song of Milarepa’, (inspired by the teachings of the ancient Tibetan Buddhist scholar), Morton Subotnik’s ‘The Wild Bull’(the title comes from the Epic of Gilgamesh) or Milton Babbit’s ‘Philomel’ (based on a myth from Ovid’s). In any case, listeners familiar with Mayan ideas about the end of the world – remember 2012? And Mel Gibson? – won’t have to try too hard to find the duo’s high-velocity screeches and catastrophic thunderclaps appropriately apocalyptic. These guys have seen the future. And it is murder.

Hjem

Kurt Liedwart / Andrey Popovskiy / Martin Taxt – Hjem (Mikroton Recordings) CD and digital album

The ppooll system makes another appearance here, this time in the hands of label boss Kurt Liedwart, in a trio with Norwegian tuba player Martin Taxt and St Petersburg violinist Andrey Popovskiy.

This is quiet noise of a superior kind, Taxt and Liedwart ganging up to create laminal extended horizons through which Popovskiy scratches rough and ready paths. Taxt’s tuba is great, its long brassy parps calling out like the mating calls of mysterious sea monsters, the affectless playing unable to banish the final traces of the instrument’s characteristic pathos. Liedwart’s electronics fizzle and splutter in parallel, muddy splatters morphing into frothy sploshes before emptying into micromanaged arpeggios.

If this were a duo, this would all be rather too symmetrical for me. Fortunately, Popovskiyis a wild card, his viola, electronics and objects adding welcome wayward notes to the meditative jam. At one point, a sound like a rusty gate cuts through the cool drones, soon followed by a load of bashing and banging, as if the janitor of the Dom Cultural Centre in Moscow (where this was recorded) has chosen the worst possible time to repair the central heating system. It’s a cue for things to get scrappier, with various rustles and clonks prodding Taxt into exhausted, erratic honks, while by nervy gusts of electronics chatter their support.

borough

The Holy Quintet – Borough (Mikroton Recordings) CD and digital album

 Recorded in the Welsh Congregational Chapel in Borough, southeast London, this quintet of Johnny Chang (Viola), Jamie Drouin (suitcase modular and radio), Dominic Lash (double bass), Lazaridou-Chatzigoga (zither) and David Ryan (bass clarinet) takes on an appropriately spectral quality as their manifold creaks, strikes and crunches fade in and out of hearing.

Like a lot of Mikroton releases, the link between the players, their instruments and the sounds that we hear on the record are mysterious. Here the disconnect is even more pronounced. Sure, those stringy bumps could be Dominic Lash’s bow bouncing across his cello strings and that hollow, silvery tone could David Ryan’s bass clarinet. But, on the whole, sounds float free from their moorings, sonic manifestations divorced from their physical aspects. As a result, these two sets exist somewhere between possession and haunting, the personnel mimicking a Victorian spiritualist meeting, the attendees channeling the ghostly music of the aether even as they’re taunted by cheeky, restless spirits.

The uncredited sixth player in this quintet is silence. There’s a talk a lot about silence in the experimental music world – how much of it to allow in a performance or a recording, whether we can ever achieve true silence, how to banish it, even.  Yet we rarely acknowledge that silence is not a fixed, immutable entity. It can be blissful, mysterious, meditative, depending on the context. Here it is oppressive, claustrophobic, bearing down on these ghostly voices like a force field. Absence becomes presence, and sound becomes a last barrier against oblivion.

 Mikroton Recordings (news etc)

Mikroton Recordings (stuff to buy)

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The RFM tag team special: Chrissie Caulfield on Vera Bremerton and Joe Posset on Stuart Chalmers and Three Eyed Makara

September 3, 2017 at 8:20 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Vera Bremerton – Songs of Apostasy EP (Self Release)

Stuart Chalmers – Loop Phantasy No 4 (Chocolate Monk)

Three Eyed Makara – Moonmilk Roof (Crow Versus Crow)

vera bremerton

Vera Bremerton – Songs of Apostasy EP (Self Release) CD and digital album

I first encountered Vera Bremerton when I was looking for people to play a gig with my band CSMA in London a couple of years ago. Vera’s submission was an early one but I knew at once she’d got the job. Here was someone with high-end musical skills in composition and performance, and theatricality in spades.

The performance she gave that day was electrifying (I heartily recommend the video I made of it) and I was sorry that she didn’t have anything recent on Bandcamp for me to review for the good readers of this blog. There were releases on her Bandcamp site, but they all dated from quite a bit earlier than I was writing for.

Well now she has a new EP out. And it’s as amazing as I’d hoped, though sadly it’s only 3 tracks long. The solution to this is, of course, to play it twice.

Tracks 1 and 4 open with a quiet industrial beat which draws you in gently before hitting you flat in the face. It’s total distorted headbanging stuff, and this is before the vocals have even started. Once they do, the two voices (both Bremerton of course) provide a fascinating and disturbing narrative. There’s the powerful, diabolical alto voice and the gently, tortured soprano who disappears from the song totally, and disturbingly, in the middle.

The thing this most reminds me of is Schnittke’s Faust Cantata. The tonality is of a similar style as is the two opposing voices being played off against each other – sadly the great man was not so much into industrial beats. The double-voice effect is something Vera does amazingly well live as you will have seen if you took my advice and watched the video I mentioned above.

This is Amy Winehouse teamed up with Björk in Scrapheap Challenge (don’t ask me who they’re playing against, probably Bananarama, who stand no chance) and it’s utterly glorious.

Tracks 2 and 5 are a less frenetic affair. I do love the opening to this, to me it sounds like a household object being tortured. This eases you gently into the main body of the track, but the rattle of the opening comes back to ‘rattle’ you at regular intervals (sorry, couldn’t resist). The distorted beats of the first track are still there but they provide more of a menacing ostinato for Vera to sing a longer line over. The words here are less distinct (though that might just be my ear infection playing up). Regardless, I don’t think there are any until around 2 minutes in [subs: please check this].

A version of the rattling from the beginning brings the track to a temporary halt around 2:40, it’s a lovely moment of potential calm as the reverb tail dies away, but then the whole thing comes back in, harder than ever. More layers are added to both the vocal lines and the beats, with that terrifying knocking coming back harder than ever. Sit tight in your seat for this one.

Tracks 3 and 6 have a much longer, calmer opening. Though ‘calmer’ is probably not the right word. Yes I chose it … and now I regret it. Sorry. Spooky would be much nearer. There’s a gentle synth drone with occasional punctuations from what sounds like an infernal machine winding up to perform some terrible function. The lyrics “Do what you will ….” increase the discomfort until the track explodes into ultra-violence at around 2:10. Despite the re-occurrence of the ‘spooky’ section after this and the words ‘mangled and torn, my body …’ there IS more violence to come. Luckily for the listeners, we only get torn apart emotionally.

The track’s coda is an almost normal-sounding drum beat that dissolves into the final verse that sounds as though it’s supposed to be more optimistic, but really you’re not so sure about that, I suspect it’s more ‘death as final release’. An extract from a Dido’s Lament for the 21st century.

In short – (and this EP is too short) I’m totally in love with this music. There’s sensitivity and subtlety even in the more violent sections. You can hear the care that has been taken over the production, even on laptop or phone speakers the intensity is enough to ensnare you and pull you totally into Vera’s amazing world.

More please.

stuart chalmers loop phantasy

Stuart Chalmers – Loop Phantasy No 4 (Chocolate Monk) CDr and digital album

Fantasy jam indeed!

At first I thought the King of the Loops was creating an homage to veteran loopers: Terry Riley, Robert Fripp and Brian Eno.  An audacious loop experiment bringing old beards up-to-date and squealing back into the Underground after years of Sunday Supplement worship.

But no…not a note, fizz or drone comes from these id-wrinklers.  This is a total Chalmers jam and even more the special for it.

Imagine shifting colours of sweet sparkle or the greasy swoop of a bird’s wing.  That’s ‘Rainbows Dancing in Your Head’ a sound so perfectly concave it mirrors the chilly impression made by a neat ice cream scoop.  Cup your palms together to visualise the roundness of sound.  Place them over your ears to hear the sea-shell-sloshing. It’s a celebration of all things wave-like and flowing.

Naked loops, complete with old-school tape-stutter, starts off ‘Flying Dervishes of the Recycled Choir’ – the mid-note cut-off forms a spooky base over which pumping organs throb warm, wet air.  The choir moves from baritone to soprano (probably) with the novel swivel of a pitch wheel.  Upping the creepy ante – is this the new music for The Omen?

‘Bedroom Hypnotica’ takes a single point of shining metal (a captured droplet of cymbal crash?) that is pushed and pulled into a <><><><><><><>< shape.  Opening and closing – it’s a grown up tinkle…like glitter had a noise.  A disco ball seen through mediaeval stained glass: a million points of light reflecting from across those dark centuries illumining the very human need for elevation.

Phew!

After all that sparkle things get gritty on, ‘Yorkshire Folk Song Played and Sung by the Cloud Forest Nomads’, uncovered field recordings of nasal bamboo flutes played in God’s Own Country.  The reedy wheezing soon becomes part of the Chalmers palette to be spread thick with supple knife and greasy fingers. A double-loop quality makes this bounce like a basketball with a rich orange resonance.   The coda darkens the edges of the frame with an unknown quality, a pensive ‘what’s going on?’ that balances the lightness perfectly.

‘Unfurl’?  Classic Frippertronics being fed through the most agreeable Metal Machine Music filter: sounds pop and warble, meshing as tight as fibers becoming colourful felt.

But this sweet Phantasy is brought to a close with the strident ‘Refuseniks Austerity Levitation’, an interrupted drum loop submits to the treatment building extra arms and legs, kicking and punching like Prince Paul hired Hal Blaine for a De La/Chalmers jam.

And if that’s not swollen your pocket I’m giving up!  Carve these letters on a laurel leaf and place firmly behind the ear  – S.C.  K.O.T.L.

Those in the know will wink their glazzies for sure.

three eyed

Three Eyed Makara – Moonmilk Roof (Crow Versus Crow) Cassette and digital album

Collective wood-music from a travelling band of hoiks and bawdy villains!

This honk, clatter and scrape feeds directly into my spine hole pushing out all the bad-vibe juice and letting a fresh-flowing sunlight course though the bones.  It’s a liquid loving that nourishes and warms me.  A marzipan manna that fills my soul and sweeps the bitter tears from my eyes!

I hear you…get back to the typewriter man for some sensible descriptions of what the devil is going on.

Strictly speaking I’d file this under group-think free improvisation with contributions (this time) from:

Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh – Viola
Djuna Keen – Saxophone
Natalia Beylis – Mandobird & Electronics
Willie Stewart – Snare & Floortom & Gong

It steers a path that’s well beyond the jazz zone and creeping into something far more rootsy and dew-scented.  Like silver-edged ferns these pieces untangle themselves from tightly coiled buds and shudder into rude life – proudly standing tall among the scrabbling weeds.

The mixture of primitive and modern is deftly balanced.  Open-throated sax honks battle the drumming menace on ‘Half Blind Valley’ in a jam that could have graced a crusade (or something).

But ‘Oolite and Pitch’ sounds like the Company Week crew took the whole darn show out of the city and into a mushroom circle to play for the assembled fire-sprites.  A manic sawing is the thing that swings, loosening my rivets, as I duck and swerve the brass knuckles and soft drum implosions.

It’s a dance of familiar textures but sewn together in a new way, a patchwork if you will, that can be comforting and saucily intimate.  It turns hollow around the 11 minute mark.  All that bluster and howling, all the defiant bomb-like snare work begin to shuffle round a tree stump like sodden campers.   The final minutes are shrouded in electronic mist (lost White Noise tracks discovered in an old tin can?) that makes each rattle and bleat glow like menacing eyes viewed through a grimy window.

Before I know it the moss is growing through my toes…

Vera Bremerton Bandcamp

Stuart Chalmers Bandcamp / Chocolate Monk

Crow Versus Crow Superstore

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only the squad survives: wnns joins rfm, then squints at laurie tompkins, giant claw and dikeman / serries / aquarius

August 20, 2017 at 6:59 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Laurie Tompkins – 45thGeneration Roman & European Bob (Sacred Tapes)

Giant Claw – Soft Channel (Orange Milk Records)

John Dikeman / Dirk Serries / René Aquarius – Day Realms (Tombed Visions)

 

Hey. Nice to see you. Come in. Draw up a cushion. Relax. Have a drink.

We may not have formally met before. I spent some time writing a blog called We Need No Swords. You know it? No? Ah well. It happened, for a while. And then it didn’t. Have a look at it, if you have time. You might like it.

But I’m here at RFM now, sort of, for a little while. You’ll probably see me popping up every few weeks or so. It takes a while, y’see. To get the words out the murk and onto the screen.

So, well, if you’re settled, let’s begin. Are we rolling? Ok.

laurie tompkins

Laurie Tompkins – 45thGeneration Roman & European Bob (Sacred Tapes) cassette and digital album

It seems only fair and logical to start this new adventure in a spirit of continuity rather than rupture. Regular readers of RFM will have enjoyed Marlo Eggplant’s fantastic exploration of the recent output of the Slip label, in particular co-founder Laurie Tompkins’ Heat, War, Sweat, Law, which Ms. Eggplant described as ‘pure play, touching objects, feeling surfaces, and hollering at friends.’

45thGeneration Roman & European Bob is a companion piece to Heat, War, Sweat, Law, sharing the latter’s anarchic spirit, non-existent musicianship and gestural physicality to create ungainly lumps of intuitive, defamiliarized sound-making.

In reality that means showers of yelps and grunts accompanied by wandering organ lines and the clacking splutter of someone banging a flowerpot. The overriding impression is of Tompkins and collaborators Sam Andreae, Suze Whaites and Owen Roberts stumbling across a ruined landscape, picking at the shattered remnants of musical forms, their attempts to remake them hindered by the fog of some post-traumatic amnesia. The yowls, patters and parps are a kind of post-catastrophe music making in a territory for which the maps are long gone.

However, if that’s true, why does it sound so much bleedin’ fun? Heat, War, Sweat, Law, although similar in approach, was immersed in an ambience of frustration, Tompkins wrenching fragments of Heaven 17’s The Height Of The Fighting into a series of despairing modernist anthems. The reference point this time around is The Streets’ ‘Turn The Page’.

“Turn the page on the day/Walk away/Cause they’re sensing what I say/ I’m 45th generation Roman/But I don’t know ‘em.”

Not that you’d recognize any of Mike Skinner’s geezer melancholy in the lines of these cracked mosaics.

Yet although the aesthetic is similar the vibe is completely different, Tompkins and his mob enacting a bizarrely celebratory set of rituals, a prelude to a primitivistic bacchanal. The overlapping hoots and hollers of ‘Fifth’ are a bewildering rush, drama-school posturing mixed with Dionysian abandonment in a proper WTF mash-up. ‘ER’ goes even more dissonant, with faux-clumsy keyboard spurts and bashed flowerpots chiming a stop-start backdrop for Tompkins’ vocal fulminations.

Time to embrace the bonkers, flower children.

giant-claw

Giant Claw – Soft Channel (Orange Milk Records) vinyl and digital album

Giant Claw is the sound of your old Windows XP machine being sliced to ribbons by malware, opening up a backdoor for digital housebreakers to riffle through your iTunes library and Amazon wishlist in a vain search for anything valuable – or at least, ahem, compromising – before giving up in disgust and sauntering off leaving a pile of soiled wreckage in its wake. That all this digital carnage is strangely comforting when served up as safely packaged entertainment for lovers of electro-jolt everywhere is testament to Giant Claw mover and shaker Keith Rankin’s cunning ability to create joy from sonic catastrophe, shredding wholesome nuggets of technological capitalism into itchy blankets of enervated jitterbug soup.

This kind of byte-scrabbled mess won’t be unfamiliar to anyone versed in the Oneohtrix Point Never school of production, which recasts the artist as a kind of hyperspace flâneur  kicking through virtual junkyards until they’ve gathered enough glitchy detritus to hack together lumbering automatons of cyber-rusted manure. But Señor Claw is a bit of maestro at this sort of thing, his two previous albums of hiccupping abrasion – 2014’s Dark Web along with Deep Thoughts from a year later – wearing their compositional nous lightly, the fused nodes of their distorted bloops, vocaloid shards and attention-addled jumpcuts only gradually revealing themselves as the delicately woven threads jig insouciantly past.

And so it goes with Soft Channel, Rankin’s latest missive from his empire of blown soundcards. Released on Rankin’s own Orange Milk label, its frenetic asymmetry may well prompt much gnashing of teeth from those not down with the Giant Claw ethos. After all, if one wanted to hear one’s laptop melting down, one wouldn’t have renewed one’s antivirus subscription, eh? But stick with it and you’ll be rewarded. Those chunks of circuit board gloop transition gradually into gleaming, impossible shapes, like sculptures altering their dimensions each time you see (hear) them. Ineffable snatches of alien choirs nudge up against scrolling vistas of spontaneous composition, their fraggy soundscapes smeared with streams of machine lingo fresh from the droid-brain.

The trebly pixel bursts of ‘Soft Channel 02’ make for particularly refreshing listening, their irregular blurts morphing into a prickly ooze of anime moans and hard-panned stutters. Things get double-caffeinated later, with ‘Soft Channel 006’s’ cello plucks tessellating into modem babble like some Benny Hill hack into the traffic-light mainframe.

You’re only supposed to blow the bloody ports off.

Day Realms

John Dikeman / Dirk Serries / René Aquarius – Day Realms (Tombed Visions) cassette and digital album

David McLean’s Tombed Visions label continues to mine a rewarding seam of mutant sounds that combines fire music’s euphoric blowing with the protean spontaneity of free improvisation. Here he hooks up stateside exploratory reedsman John Dikeman with Belgian guitarist-cum-sound artist Dirk Serries and Dutch powerhouse drummer René Aquarius, for a transatlantic jam that sets a determined course for the far reaches of the universe, the trio losing themselves in gorgeously tangled chains of silvery honk and glassy deep-space glister.

Dikeman, Serries and Aquarius are part of a resurgent wave of free jazz that gathers up players from Europe, the US and UK in a cross–cultural throng. Tombed Visions released the first outing from this trio, Night Realms, in 2016 (it’s also provided on the flipside of this tape for any heads who may have missed it) – and players with a similar worldview, such as Andrew Cheetham, Otto Wilberg, David Birchall, Colin Webster and Sam Andreae, have also been represented, in various combinations, by McLean over the years. Of this lot, the ABC Trio’s two releases come particularly recommended, the threesome of Andreae (tenor sax), Birchall (guitar) and Cheetham (drums) locking together in an astringent yet weirdly groovy manner that’s sure to get anyone that’s interested in non-dogmatic free improvisation foaming at the gums.

Night Realms walks a jazzier line than the spittle ‘n’ leather of the ABC squad, its blissful candour creating a beatific cocoon of sound whose radiance doesn’t let up for the 40-odd minutes of its runtime. René Aquarius, whose muscular, arrhythmic chops for Dead Neanderthals are a major contribution to the duo’s seismic force, lets loose with flurries of cymbal and percussive snare and kick-drum jolts, driving forward his partners’ explorations in tidal surges. Serries is on good form too, with circling mantras whose textural sheen are evocative of In A Silent Way-era McLaughlin.

Together, Serries and Aquarius form a taut mesh through which Dikeman slithers with riverine guile. His playing is fluid and melodic, but tough too, his curling riffs building up into a brassy lung-busting cacophony that transforms Day Realms’ opening quarter of an hour into a joyful overture. It proceeds through a series of peaks and troughs after that, although the rhythm rarely feels contrived. At around 20 minutes, Serries drops out and Aquarius moves to toms, freeing up the higher register for Dikeman to blast out in a reedy, squealing tantrum. Serries edging back in with an extended single-note drone adds another layer of hypnotism, yet the tension is allowed to dissipate, oozing out in a series of desultory splashes and plunks, before the trip gird their loins for cathartic final-minute splatterfest.

Bring the cloths, you’re gonna need to clean up around here.

Sacred Tapes

Orange Milk Records

Tombed Visions

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the dada that punk should have become: rfm on chow mwng, robert ridley-shackleton, sons of david ginola, d. coelacanth

August 13, 2017 at 7:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Chow Mwng – ULOT-CA  (NWSAS)

Robert Ridley Shackleton – The Opera (Chocolate Monk)

The Sons of David Ginola – Blood Too Thick Symptoms (The House Organ)

D. Coelacanth – Tony Eats Screws (No Label)

chow mwng

 Chow Mwng – ULOT-CA  (NWSAS) sold-out CDR, poetry book and original collage art all presented in a card box and digital album

Truly outstanding song-a-delic bedroom-pop from Wales.

Fill a box with old guitars, keyboards and crooked dreams – bung it all on to your four-track and mix with patience and understanding – that’s Chow Mwng for ya!

Following the trail set by travellers as diverse as The Shadow Ring or Storm Bugs this is a goodly clatter full of fizzing energy and ideas.  Ash Cooke is responsible for this hectoring collection and his vocal delivery, like a Welsh Sexton Ming narrating a Lovecraftian episode of Fingerbobs, is full of gold star moments.

Lyrically he moves from psychedelic domestic observation, to dream-logic vignette by way of sharp social satire.

EXAMPLE: ‘Pop Music is Dead’, a caustic riposte to anyone lazy enough to rest on their local laurels and a half-assed musical approach.  The Super Furry Animals, Marc Riley, 6 Music and Arts Funding all get a kicking from Mwng’s hobnailed boot

 “Like musical Brexit they voted to leave!”

Tune-wise it’s a really loose jam.  A dry collection of skewed songs deeply entrenched in a DIY Maginot line.

EXAMPLE: ‘Tara of Banana’.  A collapsing structure built of plastic pies.  Wind-up machines excite guitar strings in the most eccentric manner.  Squeals and wriggles.  My personal hotspot – The Welsh Kecak!

Life-affirming tunage!

rrs2

Robert Ridley Shackleton – The Opera (Chocolate Monk) CDr

Instant composition, phlegm and confessional come together for RRS’s new operatic piece.  But scrub all you know about fat shrieking and overpriced pomp.  This is opera as domestic diary, opera as rambling monologue, opera as consumer advice!

The clip-clop of a dodgy tape machine is an undercurrent to much of the 78 minutes.  The hiss of recycled tape the orchestral underscore, punnet-scrunch a percussive interlude and a ‘shiff-shiff’ of that patented pocket-jazz sound the crowd-pleasing refrain that gets used on car adverts and sports shows.

So like a diary (with 30 separate tracks suiting sweet September, April, June and November) things move between the mundane and insightful.  Sound-wise, much is indistinct and unclear, it’s like gently melting into another’s mind; thoughts become confused when slipping between individuals and magnetic interference fuzzez the edges.

Some of the subtle bubbling tracks (keyboard, ailing drum machine and packaging material?) are a kind of punk Francisco Lopez with added cassette case ‘klak’.   Others are brief street scenes, unboxings of unnamed produce and notes-to-self.

A religious air infects many of the monologues suggesting Shack is the warmest of messiahs teaching his apostles about the dangers of sunburn turning the testaments into a Game of Thrones-style drama while they stare meekly at his sandals.

The drifting between short snippets is as natural as a daydream and I’m gathering wool (and scribbling notes of course) until the hiss retreats for a time and Shak barks:

“Did you really expect there to be no funk in this opera?”

The true heir to Shalamar mugs the keytar, extolling the virtues of getting loose with ‘card’ and diverting my rooster strut with lines like:

“Everyone needs peace, err…have you seen my niece?  Yeah.  Err…she’s a trouper, it was her birthday recently actually.”

And the funk-jams just keep on coming…durty and greasy Kentucky-fried jams that stand out like hot peppers in among the shuffling shuss…I’m minded of Gwilly Edmondez in the chart zone and wonder, out loud again, how long can it be until these guyz hook up?

Pay attention Bob Dylan. The Cardboard Prince has not left the building and has no intention to until the shops open again.

david ginola

The Sons of David Ginola – Blood Too Thick Symptoms (The House Organ) 3 inch CDr and A6 booklet and copyright free digital album (s)

A new coupling from super-brains and conceptualists, Murray Royton-Ward and Kevin Sanders.  This is one classy disc of gentle rippled popping and supreme geography.

‘An Enormous Bit of Very Old Pipe’ opens this tidy package and first impressions are like walking through a bog; this sound pulls on your extremities.  A heavy gravitational fudge, a thick grey sugary wave sets the tone for intelligent and masterfully placed scrapings and stretchings.  Metal strings are pulled until they squeak their copper brightness to accompany the silt-like shuffle of atoms below.

I’m reminded, curiously, of Amy Winehouse and her finest pipe-based lyric,

“…and I’m the tiny penny rolling up the walls inside.”

That’s perfect Amy…I am that tiny penny too.

The lengthier, darker second and final track ‘Kabra Kebabra’ is a submersible vibrating gently in the sea.  Enormous tentacles wrap the sub and their muscular flexing sends invisible waves booming through the pressurised interior causing event the saltiest mariner to clap their hands to their ears and cry, “Doom!”

On a practical note this fancy package is available on several formats: physical disc & booklet, regular download (but not on that bandcamp nonsense, these cats host for real) on the clear and darkweb for which you’ll need a Tor Browser and the kind of digital knowhow that slips through my brain cracks.

These guys positively encourage peer-to-peer sharing, comment and source-code sharing!  Go nuts you boffins.

tony eats screws

D. Coelacanth – Tony Eats Screws (No Label) CDr

In another universe popular entertainment resisted moving images and the damn TV to celebrate the radio.  In this universe not only has radio become king but the art of listening is elevated to a spiritual duty.

This mysterious and modest disc consists of one Mr D Coelacanth as he staggers and blusters through a pair of readings that celebrate the dada that punk should have become.

Senseless snippets of found sound, TV noise, wrecked R n’B and empty noise-blisters act like scaffolding to keep the brain structure rigid.  They form a much needed cage to hold the pulsating narrative that’s as daffy as nougat, as sinister as blood-stained scissors.

In four-four time speech-grenades explode softly behind my eyes.  They go something like this…

“The plumber left me with a formless kitchen…I can’t cook here my skull is enlightened.”

“The corpse wore perfumed shoes.”

“Fresh Bacon! I was sprouting.”

“That’s a pointed leg you’re holding…listen to the steroids.”

There’s an obsession with larva, muck and bodily grease.  Each snarled exhalation is wreathed in decaying tape-noise, smothered in grot and breathed in an unholy sequence that defies categorisation.   The only way my tiny brain can hold on is to file this under Scandinavian Saga gone ‘scat factory’ or Luke Poot possessing the god Bragi if you prefer.

I’ve had a quick look on the computer and there literally is no way to get hold of this disc.  Uncle Idwal passed it on to me personally after riffling on its manic-brilliance here.  I’ve drawn a dead end searching for Tony Moto who handed this disc to Idwal while holidaying in Greece.  I asked my few Mediterranean-based friends about Tony or D. Coelacanth.  But they texted back with nothing but ‘incomprehensible shrug’ emojis.

Maybe this is the only copy?

You want a piece of this nut-scratcher?  Course you do.  I’ll mail it, free of charge, to whoever leaves the first comment below.

Pass it on reader, pass it on…

NWSAS

Chocolate Monk

The House Organ?

-ooOOoo

the intersection of machinery and imagination: marlo de lara on dj crackle and dj snip, kit downes and tom challenger, klaas hübner, matt rogers and laurie tompkins

August 6, 2017 at 8:50 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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DJ Crackle and DJ Snip – Broken Records Phantasy (Ono Records)

Kit Downes & Tom Challenger – Vyamanikal (Slip)

Klaas Hübner – Sog (Slip)

Matt Rogers – SK√-1 (Slip)

Laurie Tompkins – Heat, War, Sweat, Law (Slip)

crackle and snip

DJ Crackle and DJ Snip – Broken Records Phantasy (Ono Records) Cassette (sold out) and digital album

It ain’t nothing new to be a fan of Stuart Chalmers in these parts. From his 2015 Crater Lake performance to his recent show with BBBlood and Posset at Fuse, Leeds/Bradford is delighted when the Chalmers blows through the area.

It is of no surprise to me that he extends beyond his layered noise sets to the world of plunderphonics with such ease. In the persona of DJ Crackle, he reassigns sounds in rhythmic and parallel arrangements.  The sounds are sourced by Dj Skip (Michael Holland) whose projects include Ono, Keswicklemon, Fulbaechop, OnoTesla, Islington Mill Creativity Exchange, and Show and Thumb.

There is a balance of intention and improvisation in these tracks. The first, ‘Beach Clouds’ sounds exactly like its title, riding smooth continuous waves into the album. From here the tracks become more cut-and-paste based with beats that vacillate from halted/stilted to electropical.

The re-purposing of R & B vocal tracks with percussion in ‘Brandy Songs for Supercat’ to ‘White Moonglows’’ electronic bending of a stretched drum and time elapsed words/moans makes this album both playful and mind bending.

Ending with ‘Torch Song for Trumpet’, a high-tide call back to the first track, one is crashed on the shores with sonic waves licking one’s collapsed body.

In some ways, I find work like this more psychedelic than the psychedelic genre itself. Disorganizing captured sounds and setting them free in the air – the whole heart and soul of plunderphonics is captured in this release.

Once the sounds erupt, they become free and no longer are tied to their origins.
 

Kit &amp; Tom 1

Kit Downes & Tom Challenger – Vyamanikal (Slip) CD and digital album

Upon reading their press release, it becomes clear this accomplished duo does several site-specific free jazz/drone tinted improvisations with saxophone and various organs/harmoniums:

“Recorded at five Suffolk churches during a 2015 Aldeburgh Music residency, Vyamanikal deftly explores the native nuances and acoustics of six organs and their surrounding environment.  Downes’ organ playing is alternately delicate and thunderous, teasing out unearthly vibrations from converted harmoniums and mighty, century-old, manual organs like Framlingham’s ‘Thamar Organ’. Challenger’s sax lines act as a conduit between the instrument and their locale, probing errant pipe tones for interferences, and embellishing distant birdsong.”

While the dual tones achieved by the organs are sustained, the saxophone flies with hummingbird silence and delicate presence. It is dream inducing and parasympathetically rich – anti-‘fight or flight’ music or perhaps at times, like in ’Sa,’ it swells into a disconcerted moment.

Yet these nightmare anxieties are delivered underscored by grounding chords. The saxophone in ‘Vistri’ becomes more central, and in its minimal interactions with the diegetic ambient sounds (of birds and wind) the track in some ways is mostly filled with places for listening. The architectures potential is audible and is by far the most site specific on the concluding track ‘Nya-Aya’.

I (not Radio Free Midwich) question the explanation, necessity, and usage of a Sanskrit word. It is a trend that is worth examining in experimental music when white Western music and art practitioners, use language or culture not of their own. There are elements of exoticism or cultural appropriation when language or culture is reappropriated for endeavours like these, especially without the presence of people which inspired the work.

Their press release states: “Named after the ancient Sanskrit term for flying machines – ‘Vaimānika Shāstra’. “  I ask, what is gained by using the Sanskrit word versus the wording ‘flying machines’? Does the album get mileage by this choice of making a nod to Sanskrit? I would argue, the album does not require a cultural derivative to be enjoyed. In its context and completion, it is well composed and highly enjoyable.

It demands repeat listens and room for wondering.

 
klaas hobner

Klaas Hübner – Sog (Slip) C50 Cassette, CD (sold out) and digital album
 

sswsw

Pictured above is ’sswsw’:

“Five laboratory oscillators that generate sine waves of different frequencies, each modulated in volume by mechanical metronomes. The metronomes rest on a light wooden board which sits on 2 aluminium tubes. This setup references Christian Huygens’ 1657 experiments with synchronisation. The free swinging board slowly synchronises the movement of metronome and therefore the modulation of the sine waves.  Spontaneous synchronisation with sine waves was developed as a performance within Corsin Gaudenz’s theatre work ‘Time is on My Side’.” (album notes)

Check out a video of all that good stuff here. Recorded at Rote Fabrik, Zürich, March 2013.

Upon opening the album, with its artist notes and images, I was extremely excited! The album description of the artist alone delighted me and the various media forms in which he explores: “SOG is the magisterial Slip debut of Klaas Hübner, the Berlin-based sound sculptor, improviser, and instrument-builder whose installations coax out uncanny chants from whirly tubes, ceiling fans, styrofoam, and cassette tapes.”

Hübner’s construction and composition are equally beautiful. While the sounds are merely one dynamic of the experiments, the process to its execution is intriguing. Hübner’s work takes up space.

They visually are stunning in their technological construction. As objects, they are intricate and shiny. Conceived as an extension or expansions of various sound and technological historical experiments, as in ‘sswsw’, the work is enthralling.  The work is the material.

One is very aware that these processes/objects emit natural sounds at times, they are built with hands and structures. Sounds meet at the intersection of machinery and imagination. The tape loops used in the ‘schwarzwald’ installations are ugly and light. This vacillation is what pushes the instrumentation beyond many tape loop releases/recordings.

music-for-ceiling-fan-tubes

Music for Ceiling Fans and Tubes: “Lying on their backs below a ceiling fan which rotates just above their bodies, Lysandre Coutu-Sauvé and Klaas Hübner play this composition. One whirly tube is attached to the fan generating a permanent hum, while the two play small tubes as flutes and percussion on the fan blades.”

Watch this goof here.  Recorded at T10 studio, Berlin, January 2015.

This not to say that the compositions lack melodic or traditional musical structures.  A constant beat is provided while flutes guide us to down a wandering path. It does not have a destination but rather like two flutes in conversation they move across various ecospheres.

Perhaps the best part of these compositions is the footage that accompanies the pieces in the notes. One can listen to a track, experience the sounds as they stand, and then revisit the actual set up and machinery used through Vimeo. I particularly recommend listening to the organ and welding track ‘Chateau Poulet’ and opening the footage of the performance. It is refreshing to see works like this in our review pile.

I enjoyed the well conceived nature and the sensual complexities of Hübner’s work.
 

matt rogers

Matt Rogers – SK√-1 (Slip) C30 Cassette, sold out CD and digital album

Press release description: “SK√-1 is the debut Slip missive from British composer Matt Rogers: a suite of solo scorchers belched straight out of the jack of a GravesEnd Casio SK1.”

If one were to take an orchestral arrangement and push it through a misfiring Commodore 64, you might get the sounds Matt Rogers fired in this album.

Unlike the overt sonic attacks of harsh noise, these compositions are strategic and evolve into several fronts. Don’t get me wrong, you are still being attacked. Perhaps it is the instrumentation evoking Cold War computerized technology or the laser-like precision of the ripples and oscillations.

One never is comfortable and even in the pauses and sustained notes, there is no peace. It is unrelenting in its persistence and yet sounds like it is crumbling in its execution.

While these are composed pieces, the affect is the immediacy of a live noise set in which danger and immediacy are integral to the experience.

Then track 5, SK√-1 ■■, arrives on deck. Like a circus-tent taunter or a hypnotic slot machine, it is joyous and bouncy yet still demanding…

 

  • Track 6, SK√-1 □□, is more pensive and thoughtful.

  • Track 7, SK√-1 ▪■, is a call to re-organize the efforts, a gathering and planning of resources.

  • Track 8, SK√-1 □, is the victory of the invaders, littered with small uprisings.

It is not difficult to imagine a space war of sorts listening to this album.

Another impressive release from Slip.

laurie tompkins

Laurie Tompkins – Heat, War, Sweat, Law (Slip) C25 Cassette (with fold-out A3 poster of ‘business wanker’ artwork) CD (sold out) and digital album

Laurie Tompkins work reminds me of early K Records, like Beat Happening on too many drugs.  Or maybe angry cats?

Embracing unprocessed sounds and the humanness of voice, it is absurd and yet structured. Without reading as intentional, each track is present to the sounds played with. The work is very human-centered, not like Carl Rogers’s psychology, but from where it originates.

It is pure play, touching objects, feeling surfaces, and hollering at friends. It is undirected and let loose to build, fail, and climb. Sometimes solidifying into group efforts and other times the mere audible process of attempting to connect and communicate as a group.

The lack of digital instrumentation is welcomed and with percussion often sounding like handclaps, snaps, and stomps, the definition of instrument seems to be made up on the spot. The last track ‘Regret’ is the most song-like in its structure. Almost like the party at the end of a chaotic time, the track attempts to find a harmony in the rhythms played like a broken hand crank machine.

The album is reminiscent of absurdist noise projects like Usurper and The Earwigs, something beyond intentional humour.

Unlike the rest of the Slip releases, it comes off like sonic polaroids after your best friend comes over to play and now the house is trashed.

Definitely a choice for those who enjoyed unprocessed sounds/recordings.

 

Stuart Chalmers’ Batcave

Slip Bandcamp

-ooOOOoo-

vintage segs: rfm on binnsclagg, dayglow exploding super infinite, dr:wr and katz mulk

July 30, 2017 at 6:16 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Binnsclagg arranged by THF Drenching – Bring Back Hanging (Chocolate Monk)

Dayglow Exploding Super Infinite – Weightless and Everywhere, Drizzled in Honey (disillusion.dot.dot.dot)

DR:WR – Our Shadow Days (Eps 1 – 3) (No label)

Katz Mulk – Husks (Singing Knives)

 binnsclaggTHF

Binnsclagg arranged by THF Drenching – Bring Back Hanging (Chocolate Monk) CDr

Operatic junk-melt from two salty coves is stirred by a third with a runcible spoon.

Beard, Karl M V Waugh & non-beard, Verity Spott have cooked up a shot of pure Binnsclagg and injected straight into Drenno’s eyeball.  The last flickering spasms from the Council of Drent’s most celebrated son register on some sort of Beaufort scale (for skronk) and gets marked-up in felt tip ‘fresh gale – twigs break off trees, cluttered sounds smudge gravity.’

Clear enough yeah?

Sense-valves are squeezed firmly from the middle to let the chum squirm rudely out, forming foul brown pyramids:

 

rhythmic pulses throb like a sore thumb,

granulated ripping precedes a spoken word interlude,

old coins are rubbed on a vintage slate,

 

the TV chatter is tuned to the Mr T show,

lobbying voices blabber and honk,

synths are employed as security guards,

 

overloaded sections create vital grab-zones to ponder and chew bitter herb,

ghostly organs invoke the dark heart of Blackpool; pure shredding

six-handed – with a swingers firm grip

 

A mess?  Of course not.

Bring Back Hanging aches like the tight tangle of poetry.

dayglow

Dayglow Exploding Super Infinite – Weightless and Everywhere, Drizzled in Honey (disillusion.dot.dot.dot) cheap-o digital album

This accidental-static, fluff osmosis is exactly the kind of sound The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and their foul type have tried to scrub out of existence, stomp into history, for years

The exact moral opposite of Anthony, Flea (and the other two) this rotten, fluttering pop crackles in my ears like a dry cotton bud chasing a rogue insect for about 37 minutes.

There’s no funk or no punk in this energetic splutter; indeed there is no jazz or blues either.  But this is unmistakably rock n’ roll, the closing moments of ‘Collapsing Droplets’ as badazz as Link Wray’s low-down Rumble; greasy D.A. aloft and flick knife tucked into his waistband.

If all else is true the lengthy ‘Once we Considered Surrender’ is surely the ballad, a slow dance of chittering typewriter keys and radio interference.  Somehow wetter than its companions the spitting sonics play out more like a garden hose being repeatedly stepped on-off-on-off in a herky-jerky dance.

Uncomplicated, but of course vibrating with coded meanings only the in-crowd can decode.

A whop-bam-a-loo-bop-a-whop-bam-boo!

drwr

DR:WR – Our Shadow Days (Eps 1 – 3) (No label) gratis digital album

A tone-desert as barren as Catterick Lorry Park

Oily loops of reverb’ed somethings snake in sinister circles; a gentle rumble is the slowest drummer – like yeast picked up the brushes.  ‘Dream Pollutants’ feels like some Replicant code-patch to increase anxiety and paranoia – take it slow Skin Jobs.

Lazily shifting shapes tip on hidden hinges to reflect a sooty light on ‘an attempt at exhuming nowhere’.  The see-saw effect makes this a meditative piece suitable for a trek in Nepal or charity shopping. Those times when you need to make peace with your creator (whoever she is) and open yourself to the bounty of the universe.  The final five minutes introduce giant’s steps plodding through the bog; slow and steady.

A thoughtless ohm thrown down a dark corridor? ‘Prebranded Features’ invokes Danielewski’s ‘House of Leaves ‘ with its eerie voicing’s that seem to endlessly descend into some unknowable horror.  Compact and neat this piece never stalls or chokes.  The layered lines lay as thick and deep as velvet; both opulent and oddly cloying.

But is it as bleak as the famed garrison town?  Give me answers dear reader.

katz mulk husks

Katz Mulk – Husks (Singing Knives) laser cut and risoprint booklet of performance notes with digital album

Three fine brains (Kearney, Morris, Knight) take a bunch of recordings made in public and private and wrap them up in a galactic stew with extra lashings of arm and leg movement.

This really is an arresting listen.  Each element: processed sound, voice and dripping percussion exists in a separate timeframe that I have to punch through sideways.  Viewed this way, along three separate planes, an extra dimension is revealed – a swooping movement that is felt like warm breath on the cheek rather than simply being seen or heard.

Like a velvet glove inside an iron fist…or should that be the other way around?  Heck…either way this disc demands attention.  I’ll settle for the ‘kid’s rattle full of dead wasps’ analogy; a sting in reverse, a memory of potential discomfort.

‘Temperament’ spills like wet chrome.  Including a cheeky reference to the band rather than the metal a future face presents itself – handsome in profile.

A processed whispering infects ‘Yes like a Cheetah.’ Below the chanting it squats waiting for the echoing ‘clack’ balancing the freezer burn amp-huffing on Andrea Kearney’s perfectly timed Cuban finger clicks.  High on rum I feel gloriously wasted.

Slushy-sound, slow like a glacier with levels of engagement pinned between the gritty ice?  I’m picking up much, much more than ‘A Leaf, A Gourd, A Sack’ anyways.  The tap-dancing of Ben Morris (on vintage segs  if I’m not mistaken) chatters like joke teeth, running this track out into a leaky void.

Moving furniture around an electricity sub-station seems to be the basis of ‘Y Gang’.  Ben Knight’s voice is a hyena chorus – savannah cackling and bone-crushing moans.    The floor flexes making way for a living tarmacadam demon!

That secret lemonade drinker, Beyonce Knowles, is clearly heard on title track ‘Husks’ her high-tech and passionate R’n’B blunted via discarded garden chairs and blackened disposable barbecues.

The full twelve minute masterpiece ‘Meat Stories’ continues the dripping theme.  I’m stuck in a time cave!  My mind is an echo chamber.  A discomforting shift occurs, like a muscular tick you’re trying to suppress when the silken sound shimmer suddenly turns sickly.  Like an overdose of mustard you can’t get the yellow whiff out of your hair for days.

Katz Mulk revel in the uneasy space between healthy concern and full-blown paranoia.

Chocolate Monk

disillusion.dot.dot.dot

dr-wr bandcamp

Singing Knives Records

 

-ooOOoo-

a yeasty upstairs room: rfm on blood stereo, stuart chalmers & neil campbell, rlw & dylan nyoukis and the custodians

July 23, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Blood Stereo – Where There’s Raw Grace in Garbage (Chocolate Monk)

Stuart Chalmers & Neil Campbell – In the Vicinity of the Reversing Pool (No Label)

RLW & Dylan Nyoukis – Gukuruguh  (Chocolate Monk)

The Custodians – The Grape That Takes No Prisoners (Chocolate Monk)

choc monk

Blood Stereo – Where There’s Raw Grace in Garbage (Chocolate Monk) CDr

The wet-slippage of malfunctioning MP3 files or possibly a functional electronic sound – say the alarm in an overloaded lift – starts this single 37 minute grunt.

Over the course of the next half hour there are more than a few moments to treasure…

  • Cannibalised spoken word overlaps a low moaning (licked forefinger rubbed over smoked glass coffee table?) in perfect sympathy…a ghostly parrot chatters the syllables in strict timing.
  • 10cc’s tape loops hijacked for the ‘oooooooo’s’ and pulled through Kolkata in a handcart.
  • “What is this shadow in which we come?”asks an inquisitive voice.
  • A brief movement scored for plastic packaging materials, ring modulator and rain on a tin roof.
  • The matrix recording of coins dropped into hot syrup is re-mastered with a Joe Meek mind.

The sink gurgles and psychedelic reportage are kept to a minimum though to concentrate on rhythm in all its forms, for this is Blood Stereo’s most spacious record yet.

Dry, echoing ‘clonks’ and ‘squarks’ are placed carefully into the mix – but not with a dictator’s swagger stick.  Rather the gardener’s crisp carrot!  These, sounds are encouraged to grow, swell and bloom.  The fullness of the harvest is a testament to this pair of green-thumbs, nipping and tweaking, composting and watering their bumper crop.

But fear not goofs! It’s not all serious trousers – there are still yuks in this mix.  The family (sound) portraits and the occasional snot-nosed sniff make an appearance before the truly beautiful, final movement of antique telephone engaged-tones and exotic hot breath-waffles.

Blood Stereo’s statement is clear…from the trash I create diamonds, from the unheard and unloved I fashion unique listening flaps.

Aye.  That’s the grace all right.

chalmers Campbell

Stuart Chalmers & Neil Campbell – In the Vicinity of the Reversing Pool (no label) CDr and digital album

Two monarchs ruling together in the kingdom of the Reversing Pool.

This super-sick collaboration takes the idea of loops and propels it into the negative zone where all laws of physics are crudely tippexed out.

That’s not to imply it’s lumpen.  No way! There’s a real delicacy to these swooping spirals, like a collection of rare ceramics spinning in a vortex.  You catch the occasional blurred pattern, a hint of Royal Doulton perhaps, that you can hang your hat on but your brain is mostly taken up with the sheer majesty of complex, cyclical movement (deep in the reversing pool).

‘Star Camera’ must be a J-Pop K-Hole.  The baffled drum loop, a soft beat, slipping in and out of reality as our avatar (probably dressed as Sailor Moon) squawks an electric fudge.

The whirling, swirling miasma doesn’t let up quickly.  Even the slurred vocal starting ‘Slipping Slipping’ is part of a greater orbit.  A sort of cosmic churning taking in smears of electric guitar and fizziling keyboard washes.

A reprieve is served on ‘Detitrus on Old Bank’ and ‘Migrating Dirge’.  They are looser for sure but spinning just as fast creating sparks that ‘zip’ off my xylophone and makes me ring my bicycle bell with abandon.  By the final minute ‘Detritus…’ has turned into solid jam.  ‘…Dirge’ jingles like pennies in a sock; a curious bank or preparation for the borstal breakout?

A joyful noise unto the creator – you bettchya sweet cakes.

rlw and dylan

RLW & Dylan Nyoukis – Gukuruguh  (Chocolate Monk) CDr

Stone-cold classic tape-werks from wonk-central: Chocolate Monk.

(adopts HBO voiceover pose)

“Previously on Chocolate Monk

Dee Nyoukis shifts his spittle at the Nefertiti Jazz Club, Gothenburg six or seven years ago and pledges the live tapes to one Ralf Wehowsky, legendary thinker and doer who unleashes several gallons of whup, whup all over them.

The result is an interchangeable reality sauce, or something. “

The Nyoukis-vox tapes are a shadowy presence and tend to inhabit the corners and dado rails of this mix while RLW slathers on huge scoops of itchy sound.  At times it’s a fine violin, a recognisable sound fragment that adds a kind of sign-post, indicating the way.

At others it’s a deep abstract scribble.  Like an IRCAM-heavy squall the sheets of sound are utterly alien and yet comfortably retro-fitted.  Before you can polish your specs a granulated ripping peppers things, spicing lengthy tracks ‘Left Shoe’ and ‘Right Shoe’ up hot!

Sounds tend to whizz more than I am used to filling up my room with blank swoops or popping-mud farts.  Dylan’s strangulated vox get pinched further via squealing Ralf-manoeuvres; pitched up through your appendix scar and out via your nostril.  A silver thread seems pulled through me aching Gulliver scrambling my mind eggs.

Can I mention Varèse in this punk-ass blog?  Eek! I guess I did.  Well some of the ‘Right Shoe’ movements are percussive clatter-boxes – part Ionisation part Goldie’s Metalheadz crew but all bookended with damp squelching like a thick milkshake being sucked.

A disc for damn voyagers and heroes.

custodians

The Custodians – The Grape That Takes No Prisoners (Chocolate Monk) CDr

Top-quality brain-scrape from double-saxed trio with added Bohman power!

If you were to do a google image search for ‘Englishness’ I’m sure the old clichés of well-oiled cricket pitches and fluffy cream teas get fetched up before long*.

But for me…nothing seems more English than a ragged mess of electronics/objects balanced on a pub table in a yeasty upstairs room.

Imagine the very polite anticipation as we stand around waiting for some beard (Adam Bohman) to rummage about in the confusion and wrench out an antique-shop clattering.  Picture the sympathetic tones coaxed out of some saxophones (Adrian Northover & Sue Lynch) – but not too loud mind!

And in this way The Custodians are the most English of groups.  Perhaps it’s the practice habitual orderly queuing creates that explains the space each player leaves making this an altogether charming listen.

But how do these Toby Jugs come together, what’s the chatter yeah?

A double-barrelled approach divides performances into either:

  • thin sax tones floating over industrious sawing and dry chitter / picture Ronnie Scott’s after closing time with the roaches skittering around brass holes or…
  • bi-narratives/tri-narratives weaving sense in, out and around both my pink ears like the dusty graveyard where radio plays go to die.  These talking pieces make the tired old brain work HARD.  It’s almost like there is a loop of text that keeps getting manipulated live between Adam, Adrian and Sue as painterly touches of soft-round brass spread buttery glee.  No mercy!

The audacious tri-narrative; ‘King and Queen-Traction and Wine’ squeezes my head-sponge good with its three-fold reading text-loops, pitched squeal and wonderful steam train noises making it all tip-top and tally ho!

A real Babel is unleashed on ‘Tlotm variations’ where our three friends are joined by linguaphone tapes running backwards / forwards / sideways pressing all sense though a reality sieve until all that remains is a flapping jaw and soft wet tongue.

*don’t bother to check the validity of this – in reality a Google Image search for Englishness is predictably awful

 

Neil Campbell Big Cartel / Stuart Chalmers Bandcamp

Chocolate Monk

-ooOOoo-

shrink into tight acorns: rfm on dugan kelly, rose buried in sand and artem spar

July 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Dugan Kelly – Surface Defect (No label)

Rose Buried in Sand – Dissolving Tape (Falt)

Artem Spar – Kassettenwerk 13-15 (Falt)

 dugan kelly

Dugan Kelly – Surface Defect (No label) pay-what-you-like digital album

By day Dugan Kelly is a chemist measuring and analysing teeny-tiny molecules for important clues – a man of science.  By night he weaves electro-acoustic performances into intensely complex ripples that bristle with rude life – a man of art.

And it’s this collision of bespectacled laboratory rigour and beret-wearing boho chops that makes this recording such a blistering listen.

The central piece, the twenty-two minute ‘First Time Back’ crackles with bad energy and a fresh minty spritz.  Some sort of firework is clenched in a fist; a hot shower of colourful sparks spits from one end as the cone-shaped body defies gravity with its unpredictable wriggles and bucks.  A bell is struck and the copper tone grabbed in powerful pincers is drawn out until the lumpen peal becomes a single wire – as thin and flexible as my ginger beard.

After time the chimes thicken out becoming bulbous and clattery until the hiss takes over once more – a high pressure hose scarring black marble.

Ultra High Frequency tones herald ‘Reprisals’.  Like a divinely oily martini before…

the ice-cold silver bullet (©WH Auden)

…it nips my head while remaining cool, sharp and exquisitely intoxicating.

The ‘always on’ hiss and fritz is chopped up with a rusty razor on ‘Hidden Pet’ a glitchly funk akin to an Autechre yoga pose .  It’s polystyrene Donk.  It’s Crisco Disco.  It’s dancing with icicle-brittle legs over a hot plate but it’s hard to tell the difference between salty sweat and the pure grey meltwater.

A blistering quiet rage all but obliterates the title ‘Surface Defect’ with its scuffed Perspex crackles and the ozone- electric stink of power cables pumping their deadly energy across a desolate moor.

The intensity not so much rises like a crescendo but pulls all material towards itself like a sonic black hole.

rose buried in sand

Rose Buried in Sand – Dissolving Tape (Falt) C18 cassette with tape-jizz wraparound artwork and name-your-price digital album

Absolutely faultless tape-loop fuckery from France.

This one’s got it all tape fans: grubby tape murk, hypnotic repetition, clever loop juxtapositions and that glorious, glorious low-end hiss.

The loop placement and source-material brushstrokes are masterful.  I’m guessing here readers but I reckon metal (the element not the genre) takes a starring role as various nugget, medallion and bell are rubbed, dropped and vibrated direct to tape loop.

When Greg Gorlen (for he is RBIS) has collected enough loopage he plays them back overlaying various timelags and hamfists.  At one point I’m nodding my chin to one antiseptic metallic clang, a dirty sigh, then a brass hinge squeak and dry cork rub – and before I know it I’ve run out of limbs to twitch and start looking for a family member to shake a damn leg.

And if you are thinking this is all boys’ club clunk and industrial clatter – think on.  The smoothest moments are pensive and delicate.  Gentle ripples of soft sound and the erotic squelch of the pause button adding a triple-X quality that drags me back to those endless summer afternoons in pursuit of mind-altering experiences.

And yet…I can only sum up by stating this is surely sixteen minutes of pure tape-future.

Tape loop as time travel eh?

artem spar

Artem Spar – Kassettenwerk 13-15 (Falt) C20 Cassette with crypto-letterist wraparound art work and free-as-fuck digital album

My goodness – another modern classic from Falt!

Artem, a Russian-born artist plying his tape-trade in Berlin is pushing in a slightly different direction from Greg (as hailed above).  Here the loops are mainly absent and it’s the magical qualities of tape-natural and tape recorders that take the centre stage.

A brief nine-minute Side A take us through murky vocal sludge with chanted mouth-shapes pitched down until they throb like veins.  This is a never-ending source of wonder to me – the beauty of any human voice, in any language chopped and screwed into pieces.  There’s something of the ghostly universal in our wet mouths and pre-language sing-songs.  After time a gloopy synth rises and falls like a slowed down landscape, oak trees grow in reverse and silently shrink into tight acorns.

Side B is a wonderful pause-button shuffle and a pitched-down orchestral fog.  Case notes: Artem attends a jazz gig and dictas the night.  Walking back to his apartment he mutters comments into the mic and takes both these tapes and sprinkles them with heavy hallucinogenic dust.

The end result is part solo-tape slosh, a wonderful brain-scramble of pinched wheels and FFW scree, part free-jam in a No-Neck style; untutored, informal and confident.

The coda takes that button-jam into new territory; I feel that I can see between the sharp interjections into another world where each personal narrative is open to edit and re-recording. An ever changing past and present, a uniquely evolving history at one point linked and uncoupled from each and every other actor in the plan.

Jesus…this is some heavy tape shit.

All essential – what the hell did you think I was gonna say?

Dugan Kelly Bandcamp

Falt Bandcamp

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